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Posted at 03:56 PM ET, 05/03/2012

Mitt Romney criticizes Obama administration’s handling of blind Chinese activist Chen

As the Obama administration reassesses how to assist a blind Chinese
In this photo released by the US Embassy Beijing Press Office, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng makes a phone call as he is accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke in a car on the way to a hospital in Beijing Wednesday. (AP/U.S. Embassy Beijing Press Office)
activist who is seeking asylum in the United States, Mitt Romney criticized the administration for its dealings with Chen Guangcheng, who made a daring escape from house arrest and then fled to the U.S. embassy.

Campaigning alongside Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), Romney cited reports that Guangcheng left the U.S. Embassy after feeling threatened. He is now isolated in a hospital in central Beijing.

“The reports are, if they’re accurate, that our administration willingly or unwittingly communicated to Chen an implicit threat to his family. And also probably sped up, or may have sped up, the process of his decision to leave the embassy because they wanted to move on to a series of discussions that [Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner] and our secretary of state are planning on having with China,” Romney said.

“It’s also apparent, according to these reports, if they’re accurate, that our embassy failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would assure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family,” Romney said. “If these reports are true, this is dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama Administration. We are a place of freedom, here and around the world and we should stand up and defend freedom wherever it is under attack.”

Romney, who had in some ways been on the defenisve all week on the foreign policy front expressed dismay over the situation. He has said that if he is elected, he would label China a currency manipulator and be
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, right, accompanied by Rep. Michele Bachmann(R-Minn.) and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), arrive at a campaign stop in Portsmouth, Va., Thursday. (Jae C. Hong - AP)
tougher on the human rights front.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are in China to meet with their counterparts for a two-day “Strategic and Economic Dialogue” meeting.

Chen, a lawyer, exposed government abuses and sterilizations and has been jailed and under house arrest for years.

“If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama administration,” he said. “We are a place of freedom, here and around the world and we should stand up and defend freedom wherever it is under attack.”

By  |  03:56 PM ET, 05/03/2012

 
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